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Are Your Interviews Fuelled with Bias?

Business people waiting for job interview

While a CV and covering letter followed up with an interview remains the traditional way to find the right candidates for a position, it seems that in many cases, it is not the best route to successful recruitment. This is because in face to face interviews, bias can play a huge part in poor decision making, even when hiring managers imagine they have been as fair and objective as possible.

Studies have shown that one of the largest factors contributing to whether a candidate is selected for a job or not ultimately comes down to whether the interviewer feels they will fit into the environment. Although this is undeniably important, when it is favoured over aptitude, costly mistakes can be made that could be avoided. Here are three commonly identified types of bias at the interview stage.

1)      Instinct

This is a potentially difficult one, because instinct clearly plays a very important part in the interview process. Many hiring managers will have at least one story about regretting letting the candidate they really wanted go in favour of the someone who looked better on paper, but failed to have the some of the other traits – such as people skills, trustworthiness or empathy – that may have also been an unspoken requirement of the job. Instinct, however, is ultimately considered to be ruled by the emotions, so unless you know your instincts are consistently excellent, aptitude, experience and qualifications are the only truly fair way to judge a candidate’s suitability.

2)      Confirmation Bias

This describes our ability as people to create a picture in our minds of the qualities or flaws we perceive a person to have on paper, before we have met them, and to judge them through the filter of our preconceptions. In other words, the interviewer has ultimately made the decision before they meet the candidate, and new information will not shift that original idea.

3)      Affective Heuristic (or superficial appraisal of the candidate)

This is when an interviewer is prejudiced –either favourably of unfavourably – towards the candidate, on the basis of ultimately shallow evaluations, such as age, attractiveness, race or weight. This is the type of bias that the most work has been done to eradicate in recent decades, yet there is no doubt it still occurs despite clear guidelines for employers, particularly those in the public sector.

So how can bias best be avoided? Firstly, having a requirement that interviewers must explain and document their decision making processes helps the interviewer to remember the importance of integrity in arriving at the decision, and also helps him or her to analyse their choices more rigorously. Secondly, avoiding rushing the recruitment process is one of the essential components of effective hiring. Always thoroughly review all the available evidence of the candidate’s suitability, both before and after interview. Finally, having an absolutely watertight scoring system for both the application and interview process also helps the process of decision making far more objective, with a core list of key criteria and outcomes that must be met. While nothing is absolutely failsafe in recruitment, when these standards are met and some kind of aptitude or personality testing is also undertaken, success and fairness are a lot more achievable.

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Getting Started with Workplace Mentoring

asian business man and woman looking at laptop and tablet computer having a discussion.

The benefits of mentoring in the workplace are now an accepted fact, with a 2014 CIPD survey showing that more than three quarters of organisations have some variation of a coaching or mentoring programme available to their staff. Further studies have shown that mentoring can supercharge staff retention rates and help all staff align with individual and collective goals for higher performance and job satisfaction.


Providing newer members of staff with a role model to guide and support them through their career journey is an excellent way of creating transparency around achievement, a supportive workplace and a less competitive, more cohesive team. Meanwhile, taking a mentoring role can be an excellent way for senior members of staff to expand their role and feel appreciated for the acuity, skill and instinct they’ve developed over their time with the company. Matching newer staff with mentors can also shape the future of the company by promoting a culture of sharing what works and creating clear goals and milestones to help motivate and retain the best new staff.

So, how do you go about initiating a mentoring scheme in your company? Here are some considerations for implementing a mentoring programme.

Do we have the time?

Considering the time implications of a mentoring scheme should be high up on the list of priorities. The administration of a scheme is likely to be time consuming, so creating online resources to ease the process may also be necessary. Also, overloading already busy staff with more responsibilities risks creating a half-hearted or ambivalent attitude to what should be an exciting and supportive new way of relating. By timetabling a realistic amount of time into the week of everyone involved all participants should get the most out of it.

Find the right people to make it work

Secondly, selecting the right people and matching them is another potentially time consuming but essential task. Looking at the track records and areas of expertise of your potential mentors is very important, but considering their communication style, listening skills and willingness to work collaboratively are also essentials in deciding who to match them to. Finding mentees who are motivated, passionate and have clear self development goals is also fundamental to success.

Ensure the whole company are behind it

For a mentoring scheme to work, everyone in the company should understand and be in support of it. Using a mentoring scheme can be a way of aligning individual goals with the shared vision of the brand, and is potentially an excellent way of promoting and reinforcing company values.

Measure and celebrate success

Planning your mentoring programme will be much easier when you have a strong sense of the measurable outcomes you want to see as a result. Mentoring could support a number of strategic goals including recruitment, retention and development. By having clearly defined long and short term goals, on both an individual and collective level, and regularly revisiting them, will give everyone an incentive to make mentoring work. Embedding mentoring as part of your company culture will place your company alongside some of the more forward thinking businesses of our age, leading by example and investing in people-focused practice.

A culture of mentoring in the workplace is proven to result in many benefits. If you want to know more about how Psyence could help your organisation embed mentoring please contact us for more information.

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Would the 6 Hour Day Work in Britain?

The Swedish public sector’s recent move towards a 6 hour workday has been a hot topic of discussion for several months. Here in Britain, which according to recent studies is rated as the most unequal country in Europe as well as the one with the longest working hours, Sweden’s apparent commitment to work life balance and family time can make even the most patriotic among us wonder if we are missing out on a better, healthier way of life.

Although the idea is still in its infancy and not yet a standard expectation of the Swedish workplace, trials so far appear to be backing up the hypothesis that having a shorter, more focused day is increasing productivity, morale and quality of life.

A recent article in the Telegraph points out that despite having the most punishing work schedules in the EU, both Greece and the UK are also known for having the lowest productivity. This, unsurprisingly, is linked with exhaustion, lack of motivation and stress related illnesses.

On the other hand, fewer breaks, zero tolerance of social media or personal phone calls and a fast, more concentrated pace of work are all integral to Sweden’s new system.

So, could the 6 hour working day work in Britain?

A 2014/15 survey conducted for the British government by Labour Force Survey (LFS) revealed that stress was the cause of 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all sick days, which would certainly indicate that our long days are doing us no favours.

With public sector jobs such as teaching, health care and social care linked with the highest levels of depression, anxiety and stress related illnesses, there is clearly a strong case to be made for looking at how working hours could be reduced for the benefit of everyone. Monitoring in Sweden has certainly indicated that in the field of health care in particular, introducing shorter shifts for nurses and care workers has so far created huge improvements in patient care and staff morale.

But what about the world of business and some of the professional sectors, such as law, finance, technology and engineering? With more and more companies feeling a pressure to compete on the global stage and perpetuate a New York style, 24/7 work culture, could it be that some Brits just can’t, or wouldn’t want to, reduce working time, even if it meant potentially lifesaving improvements to their health and work/life balance?

People interviewed in some of these sectors indicated that this could only work if every workplace in Britain was fully committed to it, and that the reduction in time spent taking care of clients, being available to international clients and associates and providing excellent customer service would spell the end for many businesses, in spite of the technological advancements that could ease the process.

While we may have quite a way to go before adapting shorter hours around big commitments could be remotely possible, we did find at least one British company, who have started to trial the Scandinavian way of working. Reported advantages so far are more time for hobbies, more family time, and feeling more ‘energised’ and productive at work.

Could your place of work adapt to shorter working hours? Or do you think that workaholism is now an accepted part of British culture that we would struggle to extinguish? To discuss any of these challenges with us contact us today.